When it was built as a simple retaining wall supporting the outer portion of the Temple Mount some 2,000 years ago, I’m sure the builders would have had a difficult time getting their minds around the fact that their modest creation would become the most sacred site in the world for Jewish people:
What makes it such a sacred site? Well, according to a brochure available at the Wailing Wall (which is also known as the Western Wall)…
Long before the Temple stood on this mount, Abraham supposedly came here to sacrifice his son Isaac, and Jacob slept here, dreaming of a ladder to heaven. Then called Mount Moriah, its summit was where Solomon built the Temple of the land which his father King David purchased from Aravnah, the Jebusite, 3,000 years ago. That Temple was destroyed by the Babylonian conqueror Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC and was rebuilt 70 yerars later and restored to its original glory by Herod. Such was its alleged splendor, it was said that “he who has not seen the Temple of Herod has not seen a building of true beauty.” In 68 AD, this Temple was destroyed by the Romans, burned to the ground and its stones scattered with only the Western Wall untouched. It is said that the Divine Presence has never departed from the Western Wall.
The Wall became a place of pilgrimage during the Ottoman period and Jews would come to lament and mourn their ancient loss – hence the term the Wailing Wall.
The Wailing Wall during daylight hours:
Above, of course, is the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. And more than a few riots have been started by Muslims on top throwing rocks and other items down onto Jews praying below at the Wailing Wall.
Particularly faithful Jews will spend hours here bobbing in prayer, kissing the stones, reading passages from the Torah or engaging in countless other acts of devotion:
Those wads of paper are prayers stuffed into the cracks of the Wailing Wall… It is believed that prayers inserted into the Wall have a better chance of being answered:
The girls aren’t entirely left out. Although the larger and best site on the Wailing Wall (that pictured above) is reserved exclusively for men, there is a small section farther down that is set aside for women. I sent my Italian interpreter in to investigate and she returned with this picture of women praying at the Wall:
As an atheist, it’s hard for me to take all of this too seriously or relate to what all of the fuss is about, but it is interesting to see a site of such historical significance and one that is so famous.